Protest Legalization of Corporal Punishment


Target: Zaini Abdullah, Governor of Aceh Province, Indonesia

Goal: Prevent the passage of legislation that would sanction caning as punishment for sexual “crimes”

Indonesia’s Aceh province is considering legislation that would impose caning as punishment for a number of s0-called crimes, including adultery, same-sex relationships, and being alone with a non-family member of the opposite sex. Defining these acts as “crimes” violates international laws governing the right to individual privacy, and the proposed punishment ignores international classification of caning as a cruel and inhumane punishment. Urge legislators not to pass such a backward and unnecessarily harsh law.

The Aceh Islamic Criminal Code would allow for up to 100 lashes for a range of offenses including everything from globally recognized crimes, such as rape and sexual harassment, to acts many consider to be private affairs left up to the discretion of the individual. Falling into the latter category are such “crimes” as adultery, sex outside of marriage, same-sex relationships, consuming alcohol, gambling, and being alone with someone of the opposite sex who is not a spouse or family member. The laws are heavily based in Shari’a, or Islamic, law but would apply to both Muslims and non-Muslims.

The proposed law violates the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Indonesia is party to both treaties but claims exemption from them in this case since Aceh province was granted a degree of autonomy over a decade ago. However, no country — or province — should be exempt from respecting basic human rights. Sign the petition to urge legislators not to pass the Aceh Criminal Code as it currently stands.


Dear Governor Abdullah,

I am writing to urge you not to pass the Aceh Islamic Criminal Code. As it stands now, the code would violate the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, both of which Indonesia is party to. Relative autonomy does not mean that Aceh province can stamp out human rights with impunity. I implore you to revise the code to respect Indonesian citizens’ most basic human rights.

The law, which is heavily influenced by Shari’a, applies to both Muslims and non-Muslims, imposing a religious behavioral standard on non-practitioners of Islam, which is a violation of the human right to freedom of religion. The “crimes” the law lays out are often based in morality rather than legality and several of them, such as the prohibitions on same-sex relationships and sex outside of marriage, violate the individual’s right to privacy as laid out in Article 17 of the ICCPR. Furthermore, caning is considered a cruel and inhumane punishment under the terms of the UN Convention against Torture. As party to this treaty Indonesia — including Aceh province — is bound to abide by this ruling.

There is still time to revise the law and make it right. I urge you to ensure that the Aceh’s criminal code respects the rights of all of Aceh’s citizens.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Si Gam via Wikimedia Commons

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65 Signatures

  • Muhammad Kamal
  • sheila childs
  • Alice Rim
  • Jill Ballard
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